People paying tribute to the Language martyrs at the Central Shaheed Minar in the capital marking 'Amar Ekushey', the Language Martyrs’ Day and International Mother Language Day. Photo: UNB
The nation paid deep respects to the martyrs of the 1952 Language Movement on Friday, marking 'Amar Ekushey', the Language Martyrs’ Day and the International Mother Language Day.
The Language Movement, a significant event in the nation’s history, was aimed at establishing the right of the mother tongue as well as protecting self-entity, and culture and heritage.
Walking barefoot to the Central Shaheed Minar with wreaths and flowers, singing 'Amar Bhaiyer Rakte Rangano Ekushey February', people from all walks of life paid rich tributes to the heroes of the Language Movement who laid down their lives for achieving the recognition of Bangla as the state language of erstwhile Pakistan.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the nation in paying homage by placing wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar at one minute past midnight. At a programme later in the day, the Prime Minister urged everyone not to neglect the mother tongue and criticised Bangladeshis who cannot properly speak Bangla.
The day also brought together thousands of people from Bangladesh and India at no-man’s land in Benapole. The Bangla-speaking people of the two neighbouring countries paid rich tributes to the language heroes placing wreaths at a Shaheed Minar built temporarily at no-man’s land.
Ekushey February was observed at home and abroad by Bangladeshis and Bangladesh missions. The day also saw the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bangladesh launching the UN Bangla font and Bangla version of the Human Development Report 2019.
On February 21, 1952, students and common people in Dhaka took to the streets in protest against the then Pakistani government's denial of Bangla as the national language and imposition of Urdu as the only official language of Pakistan.
Salam, Barkat, Rafiq, Jabbar and a few other brave sons of the soil were killed in police firings when students came out in a procession from the Dhaka University campus breaching section 144 to press home their demand for the recognition of Bangla as a state language of then Pakistan.
Being a source of ceaseless inspiration, ‘Amar Ekushey’ inspired and encouraged the nation to a great extent to achieve the right to self-determination and struggle for freedom and the Liberation War.
With the bloodshed passage of Language Movement, the nation got the recognition of Bangla as its mother tongue and attained its long-cherished independence under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The day was observed across the world as Unesco recognised Ekushey February as the International Mother Language Day on November 17, 1999.
The theme of this year’s International Mother Language Day is "Languages without borders". The theme focuses on cross-border languages and helps preserve indigenous heritage.
Bangladesh has long trying to make Bangla as one of the official languages of the UN. Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said efforts are ongoing to that end.
“Government’s efforts will always be there so that it (Bangla) is made an official language (of the UN),” he said.